James Smith Cree First Nation, Saskatchewan (AP) — Fear gripped an indigenous reserve in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan on Tuesday, as police warned residents that a suspect with a fatal stabbing over the weekend could be nearby.
People from the James Smith Cree First Nation Reserve were asked to stay inside. An Associated Press reporter saw people running and shouting as police closed the streets and surrounded a house with guns
Later on Tuesday, an official familiar with the matter said it appeared to be a false alarm. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
It is not clear whether suspect Miles Sanderson was ever in the area.
The fugitive’s brother and fellow suspect Damien Sanderson were found dead on Monday near the stabbing sites. Police are investigating whether Miles Sanderson killed his brother. The brothers are accused of killing 10 people and injuring 18.
James Smith, leader of the Cree Nation, where most of the stabbing attacks took place, blamed the killings on the drug and alcohol abuse that plagued the community, which he said was a legacy of colonization of indigenous peoples.
James Smith Cree Nation resident Darryl Burns and his brother, Ivor Wayne Burns, said their sister, Gloria Lydia Burns, was the first responder who died while answering a call. Burns said his 62-year-old sister was on the crisis response team.
“She went to make a house call and she got caught up in the violence,” he said. “She was there to help. She was a hero.”
He blamed the drugs and the rampant drug and alcohol use on the stockpile, alluding to colonization.
“We committed a murder here three years ago. My granddaughter and her boyfriend. Last year we had a double murder. Now this year we have 10 more who have died and all because of drugs and alcohol,” Darryl Burns said.
Ivor Wayne Burns also blamed drugs for his sister’s death and said that the suspected brothers should not be hated.
“We have to forgive them boys,” he said. “When you’re doing hard drugs, when you’re doing coke, and when you’re doing heroin and crystal meth and those things, you’re unable to feel. You stab someone and you feel that It’s funny. You stab them again and you laugh.”
Blackmore said police were still determining the motive, but the head of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations suggested the stabbing may be drug-related.
Chief Bobby Cameron said, “This is the devastation we face when harmful illicit drugs invade our communities, and we call on all authorities to create safe and healthy communities for our people and councils and their membership.” seeking instructions from him.”
Blackmore said that Miles Sanderson’s criminal record is years old and includes violence. Last May, Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers issued a wanted list that included him writing that he was “unlawfully at large.”
Before Damien’s body was found, arrest warrants were issued for the suspects and both men had faced at least one count of murder and attempted murder.
Stabbing was one of the deadliest mass murders in Canada, where such crimes are less common than in the United States. The deadliest gun rampage in Canadian history occurred in 2020, when a man disguised as a police officer shot people in their homes and opened fire in the province of Nova Scotia, killing 22 people. In 2019, a man in Toronto used a van to kill 10 pedestrians.
Fatal mass stabbings are rarer than mass shootings, but have occurred around the world. In 2014, 29 people were stabbed to death at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming, China. In 2016, 19 people were killed in a mass stabbing at a facility for the mentally disabled in Sagamihara, Japan. A year later, three men stabbed a vehicle and killed eight people on London Bridge.
Police in Saskatchewan received the first call for a stabbing at 5:40 a.m. Sunday, and within minutes several more people were heard. In total, dead or injured people were found at 13 different locations in the sparsely populated reserve and city, Blackmore said. James Smith Cree Nation is approximately 30 kilometers (20 mi) from Weldon.
Among the 10 killed was Lana Head, a former partner of Michael Brett Burns and the mother of his two daughters.
“It is sickening that jail time, drugs and alcohol can destroy many people’s lives,” Burns told the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. “I am hurt for all this loss.”
Weldon residents have identified one of the dead as Wes Peterson, a retired widower who made his coffee every morning at the senior center. They loved gardening, picking berries, canning, and making jams and cakes, remembers William Works, 47, and his mother, Sharon Works, 64.
“He’ll shirt you off your back if he can,” said William Works, describing his neighbor as a “gentle old fellow” and “community first”.
Sharon Works was astonished: “I don’t understand why they would target someone like him, because he was just a poor, helpless little guy, drenching 100 pounds. And he could barely breathe because he had asthma and There was emphysema and everyone cared about him because that was how he was. He cared about everyone. And they cared about him.”